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by Gnifrus Urquart

The retirement industry in Australia is second to none in the world. It forces us to save money in a very comfortable way, a way that doesn’t impact our disposable income, so we all have a big pool of money to live off in retirement.

One of the things I always despise about our retirement industry though, is the way superannuation funds take control of the investment decisions away from me. It is my money, yet I cannot make any investment decisions. The situation has improved over the years, but it is still not good enough. For this reason I set up my own Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF).

All a DIY Super fund is, is a legal structure you can use to manage your own superannuation money. There are a number of responsibilities you must take care of, ensuring the fund meets its obligations in as much as superannuation laws go. Once set up though, you can be as involved as you want and outsource the parts you are not interested in managing. The things that need to be taken care of include:

1. Trustee – The trustee is the legal owner of the assets of the fund. Basically it is the trustee who takes legal responsibility for the fund. If anything goes wrong, it is the trustee who gets the blame.

2. Administration – The administrator looks after all the book keeping and accounting responsibilities. They will prepare and lodge the annual tax returns and documents and ensure all the accounts balance at the end of each financial year.

Thirdly the fund needs to be audited. Each year, it needs to be checked by an independent auditor to ensure you are keeping within the superannuation regulations. This is what will ensure you get to keep receiving your superannuation tax concessions.

4. Investments – The investment manager makes all the investment decisions, buying and selling investments to ensure the long term financial success of the fund, for the benefit of its beneficiaries. The investment manager must ensure that the investments made, comply with the superannuation laws, regulations and guidelines of the day. Failure to do so could result in a bad audit and the loss of taxation concessions.

Myself, well all I wanted was to make my own investment decisions, live and die by my own sword so to speak. I have always thought this was really important as retirement savings are one part of my entire investment strategy and estate, they are not an isolated pool of funds. The decisions I make here need to be responsible to the big picture and work in harmony with the non-retirement savings investment decisions I make.

I find all the other responsibilities to be very time consuming so I’ve outsourced them. This leaves me more time to analyse my investments properly and make better investment decisions.

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